CAREER ADVANCEMENT / AUG. 04, 2014
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3 Tips for Redesigning Your Website

One of the most exciting things about being the owner or manager of a website is the redesign phase. You get a snazzy new layout that makes everything look so much shinier and new, what’s not to get excited about? You hire a highly reputable design firm who walks you through the new updates and changes they’re going to make, and you’re sitting at your desk feeling like a million bucks. Money well spent, especially if it’s your first website or blog. But there are big mistakes that almost every website owner or manager makes with redesigning; here are three tips to help you avoid those big mistakes that can send readers and buyers running for the hills.

Baby Steps

One big mistake that almost every company makes at least once is to implement a big redesign all at once. Some companies might even announce the launch of a new design rather than taking baby steps with some of its aspects. For example, no one can really predict what type of affect a font change will have to the readability of a website—and unfortunately, not a lot of people stop to consider that yes, changing the font of a very popular website or blog cancause traffic to drop. Fonts are a big deal.

Instead, trying making small changes over time and gauging the reaction to these changes. If a website changes its font from Times New Roman to Century Gothic, doing so on certain parts of the website rather than the entire thing enables companies to gauge reactions and fix changes that aren’t as popular with the audience. It’s much easier to fix small mistakes than to fix an entire redesign.

Likewise, it’s important to gauge the effect that these changes have on aspects such as ease of use, end result, revenue, lead generation or conversion rate.

Communicate Changes

A lot of websites are redesigned without gaining feedback from users so as to grasp potential ideas or suggestions for design aspects that the current model is lacking. Though this practice is fairly common on websites that manage communities, like gaming or book forums, some websites make changes without consulting their audience to find out—and ultimately meet—their needs.

If you’re thinking about redesigning all or parts of your website, you should create a special page or post that both lists the changes you plan to make and changes suggested by the community. Open up a thread for discussion of the redesign and what readers or buyers would like to see or interface with.

While you may not be able to meet all of the suggestions, even meeting a small margin of them will drastically improve your engagement with the community. Plus, it makes for an excellent topic of discussion if you’re lacking on social media engagement or comments.

Test Everything

Though this step may tie in with making changes in baby steps, it deserves a talking point all on its own because not many sites tend to remember to test design changes. In fact, I’ve visited multiple websites boasting a redesign and yet they have numerous tiny things that break or just don’t work. More importantly, testing new changes even before they’re implemented can help buffer any breakage between your website or blog and your readers or buyers.

You can purchase the most beautiful design from the most expensive design firm, but no one’s going to care about your shiny new website if it doesn’t work. Testing changes before and after they’re implemented can only improve your insights into what your audience is looking for and the overall business outcome.

If you’re thinking about flipping the switch on a huge redesign, consider instead imagining your redesign in the form of a switchboard—trying flipping several small switches every few weeks in order to gauge both reactions and effects on your long-term goals.

Creative Commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Xelcise.

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